As we move through March, dynasty rookie drafts are beginning to get going. As most people know, this year’s crop is headlined by Bijan Robinson who appears to be as safe from a fantasy perspective as any player in the draft.
Then, we have guys like C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba who are all first-round rookie picks. While those are household names at this point, there are plenty of other rookies flying under the radar who could help your dynasty team.
Today, I am outlining four which should be drafted higher than their current rookie draft ADP.
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Dynasty Rookie Draft Sleepers
Each of these four players were ultra productive in college, playing in Power 5 conferences. Despite their sleep status, they played at a high level.
Israel Abanikanda (RB – Pitt)
I mentioned Robinson at the top of the article. He is the 1.01 in most leagues. After him is a tier of three or four backs. They could each be boom or bust in nature highlighted by Jahmyr Gibbs.
Moving further down the rankings, we find Abanikanda who led the ACC with 1,430 yards. He also led the NCAA with 20 rushing touchdowns last fall. While those numbers pop off the page, stats don’t always tell the whole story. In Abanikanda’s case, the stats are backed up by a 97-percent college dominator percentile and his projected 4.4 speed as a 216-pound back.
Abanikanda was in a timeshare to open his junior season, rushing for just 15 yards in the opener against WVU. An injury to his backfield mate opened the door, and Abanikanda responded with 154 rushing yards against Tennessee in Week 2. He finished the season rushing for 100 or more yards in 10 of 11 games for the Panthers, earning All-ACC and All-American honors in the process.
The production is hard to ignore, even if Abanikanda profiles as more of a two-down back in the NFL. He could find himself in a position to compete for carries early on, making him a nice value in rookie drafts. The fact he is just 20 years old is icing on the cake.
Jonathan Mingo (WR – Ole Miss)
If you like big, physical wide receivers who can run, Mingo is your guy. At 6’1 and 226 pounds, he has the prototypical size for an X-receiver. His performance at Indianapolis has started to bump his stock a bit. Mingo had a great combine, running a 4.46 in the 40 and registering a 39.5-inch vertical jump. He ended up with a 110.2 athleticism score, which was second among all receivers.
Unlike Abanikdando, Mingo’s stats at Ole Miss are fairly pedestrian. He didn’t record a 1,000-yard season in college, which is disappointing considering he was a four-year starter for the Rebels. Still, Mingo is very good after the catch and he gets good leverage on defenders with the ball in his hands. He is also a capable blocker which will allow him to vie for immediate playing time.
I would expect Mingo to slip to the end of the 3rd Round (or later) of rookie drafts, but I prefer him to a couple of more highly regarded receivers. There is a good track record for Ole Miss receivers coming in and being productive in the NFL and Mingo could be the next in line.
Dalton Kincaid (TE – UTAH)
The tight-end class might be one of the better positional groups in this year’s draft. Michael Mayer and Darnell Washington are the headliners, but Kincaid is someone to keep on your radar late in dynasty leagues. He might be the best overall value for the position.
Kincaid had a breakout season in 2020, hauling in 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a great athlete and very good after the catch, with his 479 yards ranking second in the country at the position last fall.
There is a dearth of impact players at tight end in the NFL, which makes any speculative impact rookie tight end a potential value late in rookie drafts. Keep Kincaid in mind as a potential pick in the 4th or 5th round.
Hendon Hooker (QB – TEN)
If you are outside of the top-8 picks in a rookie draft, you are unlikely to have much of a shot at one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class. That could leave you with options like Max Duggan or Tanner McKee, but there is another quarterback who is going overlooked.
Hooker was one of the most prolific (and efficient) passers in the country the last two years. After transferring to Tennessee, Hooker threw for over 6,000 yards and 58 touchdowns. He was a 69-percent passer and threw just five interceptions during his two seasons in Knoxville. That type of efficiency is what NFL coaches love.
Hooker doesn’t come without red flags, as he is coming off a torn ACL and will also need to prove he can play outside of the Tennessee system. However, he has the prototypical size (6’4/218) and enough running ability to keep defenses honest. He won’t be a Day One NFL starting quarterback, but, for where you will be able to get him in a rookie draft, you don’t need him to be.
Hooker is my QB5 but is going more in the QB7-QB9 range. I’d be happy to get him anytime in Round 3 or later.
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Jason Kamlowsky is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky.